Common Health Problems  »  Women’s Health


Self-Care / Prevention

For Hot Flashes

  1. Wear lightweight clothes made of natural fibers, such as cotton.

  2. Have cool drinks, especially water, when you feel a hot flash coming on and before and after you exercise. Avoid hot drinks. Limit or avoid alcohol. Limit caffeine.

  3. Follow your doctor’s advice for taking herbal products, such as black cohosh, as well as, soy products.

  4. Keep cool. Use air conditioning and/or fans. Carry a small fan with you.

  5. Try to relax when you get a hot flash.

  6. For night sweats (hot flashes during sleep), wear cotton nightwear that fits loosely. Have changes of nightwear ready. Sleep with only a top sheet, not blankets. Keep the room cool.

For Vaginal Dryness and Painful Sex

  1. Don’t use deodorant soaps or scented products in the vaginal area.

  2. Use a water soluble lubricant, such as K-Y Liquid, Replens, etc. This makes penetration easier during sex. Avoid oils or petroleum-based products. They promote infection.

  3. Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of using estrogen (pills, patches, vaginal cream, or rings).

  4. Stay sexually active. Having sex often may lessen the chance of having the vagina constrict. It also helps to maintain natural lubrication and pelvic muscle tone. Reaching orgasm with a partner or alone gives these benefits.

  5. If you can, avoid using antihistamines. They dry mucus membranes in the body.

For Emotional Symptoms

  1. Get regular exercise. This helps maintain hormonal balance.

  2. Talk to other women who have gone through or are going through menopause.

  3. Avoid stress as much as you can. Deal with it, too. (See Manage Stress.)

  4. Eat healthy. Take vitamins and minerals as advised.

Self-care may be all that is needed. Just estrogen can be prescribed. This is estrogen therapy (ET). Estrogen plus progestogen can be prescribed. This is called EPT. The term hormone therapy (HT) is used for both ET and EPT. Hormone therapy helps protect against osteoporosis, but has health risks. Each women should discuss the benefits and risks of HT and non-estrogen treatments with her doctor.


National Women’s Health Information Center


Menopause occurs when menstrual periods have stopped for one whole year. It is also called “the change of life.” In general, this occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. It can, though, occur as early as age 35 or as late as age 65. It can also result when both ovaries are removed by surgery.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms usually span 1 to 2 years. This is called peri-menopause.

Physical Signs and Symptoms

  1. Hot flashes.

  2. Irregular periods. Bleeding can occur between periods. Periods get shorter and lighter for 2 or more years. They can stop for a few months, start up again. They are more widely spaced.

  3. Vaginal dryness.

  4. Headaches. Dizziness.

  5. Loss of bladder tone. Stress incontinence.

  6. The skin is more likely to wrinkle. Hair grows on the face, but thins at the temples.

  7. Muscles lose some strength and tone. Bones become more brittle. This increases the risk for osteoporosis.

Emotional Signs and Symptoms

  1. Mood changes. Feeling very cranky.

  2. Lack of concentration. Memory problems.

  3. Tension. Anxiety. Depression.

  4. Insomnia. Hot flashes can interrupt sleep.


Hormone changes that come with aging cause menopause. The body makes less estrogen and progesterone.

Questions to Ask

Do you have any of these problems?

  1. Extreme pain during sex.

  2. Pain or burning when you pass urine.

  3. Thick vaginal discharge.

  4. Fever and/or chills.

During peri-menopause, are you pale and fatigued because you bleed a lot or pass many small or large blood clots with your periods?

Have you started having periods again after not having any for 6 months?

Do hot flashes interfere with normal activities?

If you take hormone therapy, do you have any of these problems?

  1. Symptoms of menopause return.

  2. Vaginal bleeding.

  3. Abnormal breast exam.

  4. Leg swelling or pain.